After becoming the youngest driver to win the Daytona 500 in 2011, Trevor Bayne, 20, slipped his parents an urgent note.
“How do I stay grounded in my faith when I’m so high on winning this race? What do I pray for?”
Bayne was frantic that fame would catapult him away from his first love--Jesus Christ.
“It’s so easy for us to lose sight, and it’s not just young people. Everybody gets wrapped up in material things,” said the Knoxville, Tennessee native. “I wanted to stay accountable. We can get cocky and say “I did that. I did that.” Then on the bad days who are you going to lean on? For me, I wanted to do everything for His glory.”
Winning the 500 and the media frenzy was more of a humbling experience for Bayne, although his happiness was well warranted. The boy, who raced go-karts at the age of five, was the youngest to win Daytona on his first stab since Lee Petty in 1959. Jeff Gordon won it at the age of 25 in 1995.
In his new book, Driven by Faith, geared towards teenagers, Bayne is looking to encourage young and old to lean on something greater.
“When you give your life to Jesus it’s not going to always be a paved road to glory. There are highs and lows. There are going to be struggles, just like anybody else. The difference is the peace you have,” he added. "That’s the best thing about Jesus. That peace can be the same going to the mountain top, through the valleys.”
The struggles of fame are one thing.
How about receiving flack for being outspoken about your faith? Just ask Tim Tebow.
Bayne is a friend of the Denver Bronco quarterback who isn’t shy about kneeling and praying on the sidelines, now called “Tebowing”. Tebow was flogged by an ex teammate and the media for his convictions. Former Denver quarterback Jake Plummer said on a Phoenix radio station that "I wish he'd just shut up after a game and go hug his teammates."
“I like Tim a lot. I think he’s real,” said Bayne who met Tebow after the 500. “That’s why people are drawn to him and that’s why people want to tear him down. I think his faith is sustainable because I think it’s real. Tebowing or whatever you want to call it--that’s him praying and that’s people making it into something secular. All he did was kneel down and pray. And people [just] want to build it up.”
Word is Bayne is now considered the “Tebow of NASCAR."
His father Rocky said Trevor is just being who is.
“Trevor is not a Bible thumper. He gets the message out, but he doesn’t scream it. He whispers.”
In Ephesians the apostle Paul talks about putting the whole armor of God on. Bayne said he practices this every day, especially when he received the winnings from the 500. He was afraid that it would be a distraction. So he sought out council in Tebow.
“[Tebow] He said ‘Look, you know you’ll be a good steward over it better than what other people would be. Use it. Use it for what you know is right.’ That’s what I try to do."
Bayne is aware of how the media operates. It’s still an adjustment.
“They either want to build you up or tear you down. Everybody has an opinion and everyday our jobs are defined by our success and how good we are. Jesus doesn’t say that, ever. I want people to see that we are not defined by that [success]. I am not defined by winning the 500. I am not defined by getting sick and coming back [he suffered a rare inflammatory condition in spring 2011, and was sidelined until the summer]. There’s temptations that come along every day. There’s money, people that praise you. For me it’s about not falling into that. I just have to pick up my armor every day.”